Thierry Henry: When Pep Guardiola hauled him off for ignoring Barcelona tactics

Thierry Henry: When Pep Guardiola hauled him off for ignoring Barcelona tactics

Thierry Henry enjoyed two highly successful seasons working under Pep Guardiola during his time at Barcelona.

Together, the pair brought every available trophy back to the Camp Nou between 2008 and 2010, including the Champions League, two La Liga titles and the Copa del Rey.

However, in achieving those honours, Henry was forced to adapt to the Spaniard’s strict tactical philosophies.

Henry, who remains Arsenal’s record marksman with 228 goals, was deployed on the left wing by Guardiola rather than in the central striker role that he had fulfilled in north London.

While there can be no denying that the switch was an effective one, Henry admitted Guardiola’s methods were a marked departure from what he had previously been used to during a 2015 appearance as a pundit for Sky Sports.

“How many times would we see a player come and ask for the ball [deep in central midfield]?” Henry asked rhetorically. “Not with Barcelona.”

Guardiola and Henry at Barcelona

Stay in your position, trust your team-mate on the ball, and wait for the ball. Look at where I am [hugging the left touchline]. That position allowed [Andres] Iniesta to get the ball [in central midfield] because I’m occupying the right-back.

“Freedom, [in the] last third, run, you’re allowed to. You start in a high position, and wide, but after that, you can do whatever you want.

“Basically from training to the game, up until the last third, he [Guardiola] used to call it the ‘Three Ps’ – play, possession and position. And the most important one was position.

Watch: Thierry Henry breaks down Pep Guardiola’s tactical philosophy

According to Henry, every member of the Blaugrana’s squad was well-drilled in their role – and knew not to disobey their boss’s orders.

“He had a plan. If you don’t actually do what he’s asking you to do, you’re going to be in trouble,” explained the Frenchman.

Henry went on to reveal that he himself had fallen foul of Guardiola’s rules during a November 2008 Champions League clash with Sporting Lisbon. 

Pep Guardiola as Barcelona manager

Straying far away from his left wing berth, Henry ventured to the opposite flank to link up with teammate Lionel Messi before giving Barcelona the lead on the night. 

“Me being me I went there [to the right wing] to play with Leo [Messi] and I could hear Guardiola being upset because I wasn’t on the side of the dugout. I didn’t really care, you know.”

You can check out the goal in question below (at 6:32).

Video: Thierry Henry strays out of position as he scores for Barcelona

Although Henry found the net, his decision to swap flanks on a whim did not go down well with Guardiola, who replaced him with Bojan Krkic at the interval.

“I scored a goal, 1-0 up against Sporting Lisbon at half-time, all nice and everything, and he took me off. I was like ‘what did I do wrong?’ Henry wondered, until the deviation from his manager’s wishes was explained to him.

“When Pep had a plan – respect his plan.”

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“He used to say to us the first time he took the team, ‘my job is to take you up to the last third, your job is to finish it’.”

Guardiola’s stance might seem unnecessarily harsh to some, but his track record indicates that his methods work pretty well. 

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Barcelona went on to claim that season’s Champions League crown, defeating Manchester United 2-0 in the final. 

Henry featured from the start in that clash and played 72 minutes, proving that Pep didn’t hold any long-term ill will over Henry’s decision to go rogue. 

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